When I turned 60 this past January, I was not fazed.  In fact I welcomed the opportunity to enter into what would be the last third of my life, the infancy of old age.  Due to medical advances many people my age can expect to live to be 100.  Being 60 also means embracing the true wisdom I have gained from many people over the decades, as well as from my own education and experience.  Having tried many approaches to life a couple of times over, and having reflected upon the results, I feel I’m in a good position to view life from a broad perspective.

This period of my life has seen dramatic change.  Having been an active parish priest for 31 years, I, like a lot of men reaching middle age, saw a fork in the road.  I could either continue as I was, whether content or disgruntled, or I could go down a radically new path, sight unseen.

The former choice would have offered me lifetime security and a role that identified the parameters of my life.  But this choice also felt more and more like a prison, keeping me within certain expectations that stifled my growth and my ability to help people.

The latter choice gave me an opportunity to recreate my identity and to branch out in my desire to help others with my wisdom, knowledge and experience.  But this choice was like jumping off a high diving board into five feet of water.  I had no idea how I would support myself.  I lost any hope of a pension from the church by leaving.  Health insurance became an issue.  The realities faced by my former parishioners suddenly smacked me on the side of my head.

The decision was deceptively simply: yes or no to continuing in a vocation that had dramatically changed, in a church that had seemed to lose its way.  I chose to say no to the artificial constraints of an ancient institution and yes to a new life.  I found that this new inner call was as strong as the one I had received when first considering the priesthood in 1974.  I felt liberated.

I could not have made this decision without having had excellent spiritual counsel and psychotherapy for the previous decades.  I also had friends to test my thoughts and dreams who would be honest with me.  I had yet to be introduced to the concept of a life coach.

Looking back, I now realize that the best help I received from spiritual and psychological counsel and my friends was very much like what I now offer as a life coach.  I guess the lesson is: don’t be afraid of forks in the road of life you may encounter no matter when they occur.  Seize the opportunity for transformation and get the support you need.
Contact the Man’s Coach at michaelparise@gmail.com